Sajjan Jindal’s JSW Energy plans to expand its portfolio in the hydroelectric power space by buying projects that are stymied by the lack of quality and large-scale projects of this kind that are up for sale. At a recent meeting with journalists at its Karcham-Wangtoo hydroelectric power plant in Himachal Pradesh’s Kinnaur district, a senior executive said that the company is keen to expand its portfolio inorganically.

“We are keen on buying out stressed assets in the hydroelectric space but currently there is nothing we are evaluating," Sharad Mahendra, COO, Energy Business, JSW Energy Ltd, told journalists. “There are several projects which are distressed where some investment has been made, a lot of the work is pending. Opportunities are coming our way and we are evaluating them, but a lot depends on what percentage of execution has happened, whether power purchase agreements are in place. We’re continuously evaluating the options but right now, there is nothing along the size that we are looking for."

Mahendra said that for JSW Energy to be interested in project on the block, it would have to be upwards to 200MW in capacity.

In fact, India has several scattered hydropower projects with a cumulative capacity of approximately 13,000 MW that are stranded at various stages of project development, owing to different combination of factors such as geology, hydrology, and topology, critical electrical and mechanical works, delays in clearances or land acquisition or other local issues.

Mahendra said that JSW Energy would look at reviving its 240MW power project in Kutehr, in Himachal Pradesh’s Chamba district, if the state government agrees to a power purchase agreement (PPA) that would secure a complete offtake of the power produced there. JSW had commenced work on the project 8 years ago but it had been abandoned after the company couldn’t lock-in on a long-term PPA.

“We have bid to supply 240MW of 500MW bids invited by the Haryana government. We are waiting for the results to resume work on Kutehr. We will definitely not commence anything without a PPA in hand," Mahendra said.

Of the roughly 45GW of installed hydroelectric capacity in India, the private sector accounts for only about 3.2 GW. Mahendra said more progressive policies by states – such as declaring all hydropower, irrespective of size, as renewable power, providing an interest subsidy during the construction period – would go a long way towards encouraging private sector participation in the sector.

JSW Energy presently has a total power generation capacity of 4,531 MW, of which hydro power is 1300 MW. In FY 2015-16, JSW Energy acquired JSW Hydro Energy Ltd (Earlier Himachal Baspa Power Company Ltd ) marking its formal foray into hyrdropower sector. This acquisition brought into JSW Energy’s fold two hydropower assets located at Baspa and Karcham Wangtoo, which it bought from the Jaypee Group for 9700 crore. The facility at Karcham-Wangtoo is a 1,000 MW run-of-the-river hydropower plant located on the Sutlej river in Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh while the Baspa plant, located on the river Baspa, a tributary of the Sutlej, has an installed capacity of 300MW.